With an extended run on the BET sitcom "The Game" beginning in January and a role in Tyler Perry's upcoming film "The Marriage Counselor," Brandy  is devoting a large chunk of 2012 to the expansion of her acting repertoire. However, the "Boy Is Mine" singer tells Billboard.com that she's also ready to grow musically on her sixth studio album, due out in March 2012.
"What I'm truly excited about is how the album is all about R&B and figuring out the new sound of R&B, and that was the challenge for me. I wanted to do something different -- I didn't want to just sing about love over regular beats," says the 32-year-old singer. "I think the fans have been very patient with me, but I just wanted to make sure that this album was right -- the right type of music, the right core. I feel like we're getting to that point where I felt comfortable with putting something out."
Brandy began working on the follow-up to 2008's "Human" a year ago, when her new deal with RCA/Chameleon Records was finalized. The still-untitled album features production and songwriting work from an all-star team that includes Sean Garrett, Rico Love, Bangladesh, Timabland and Jim Jonsin.
Frank Ocean , the budding R&B star who earned raves for his "Nostalgia, Ultra" mixtape in 2011, also collaborated with Brandy on the album, after landing a writing credit on the "Human" track "1st & Love." "We've always had that great chemistry, and we both understand music in the same ways," Brandy says of Ocean. "To work with him on this album was great as well, and I hope I can get in [the studio] with him some more because his music is just so moving; I'm inspired by him. I think he's a great artist and he hasn't even touched on what he will touch on in the future."
Brandy is currently shooting a supporting role in Tyler Perry's "The Marriage Counselor," the big-screen adaptation of Perry's 2008 play due out next year. In the meantime, the former "Moesha" star will return to TV on "The Game," where she'll portray a feisty bartender named Chardonnay. The singer has signed on to appear on 10 episodes of the BET series beginning Jan. 10.
"[Chardonnay] has her goals and she's always rolling her nick and snapping her fingers, and I just love that," says Brandy, who is filming "The Game" in Atlanta and working on her album in the city concurrently. "I feel like she's an alter ego, because I can be very sassy in my normal life."
While the tentative release date for her next album may change ("We're aiming for March, but I don't know if March is going to be the actual time the album comes out," she says), Brandy says that, whenever the album is released, her first extended tour since 2009 will soon follow. "I haven't been on tour in God knows how long, so it's definitely time to revisit the stage and really look at the fans eye-to-eye. Nothing beats that," she says.
- The Juice